One last trip for GOP

Brandishing a foam football to emphasize teamwork, U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Fremont opens the Nebraska Republican Party’s pre-election rally Monday afternoon at the North Platte Regional Airport at Lee Bird Field. Watching with amusement are, from left, U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith of Gering, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, Gov. Pete Ricketts of Omaha and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln. All but Sasse are seeking re-election today.

Five of Nebraska’s top Republican officeholders kept a decades-old pre-election tradition Monday by urging west central Nebraska’s GOP voters to work for a high turnout in today’s general election.

All but one member of the state’s all-Republican congressional delegation joined Gov. Pete Ricketts in imploring an audience of about 50 to enable them and President Donald Trump to maintain economic progress in Nebraska and the nation.

“If you haven’t voted already, I want to make sure you make that commitment to go out and vote tomorrow,” Ricketts said. “And then I want you to vote 10 times — not ‘the Chicago way’ 10 times ... but to go out and get nine others of your friends, family, neighbors, to go out and vote, too.”

The first-term Omaha governor was joined in the North Platte Regional Airport conference room by U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer of Valentine and Ben Sasse of Fremont, 1st District U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln and 3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith of Gering.

All except Sasse, who has two years left in his first six-year Senate term, are on the ballot today with 2nd District Rep. Don Bacon of Omaha, the only congressional absentee on Monday’s five-city GOP airplane tour through Scottsbluff, Alliance, North Platte, Hastings and Lincoln.

Ricketts is opposed for re-election by state Sen. Bob Krist, the Democratic nominee. In her bid for a second Senate term, Fischer faces Lincoln City Councilwoman Jane Raybould. Pierce County resident and former Wayne State College dean Paul Theobald is challenging Smith’s bid for a seventh 3rd District House term.

Sasse and Fortenberry introduced the group’s theme that Nebraska’s prosperity depends to a great degree on backing the Republicans’ pro-business philosophy and keeping its officeholders who work together smoothly for their state.

“Nebraska, on almost every metric you can look at for economic health, is among the healthiest places in the country,” Sasse said. He touted Fortenberry’s post on the House Appropriations Committee and Smith’s on the tax-setting Ways and Means Committee as assets Nebraskans need to hold onto.

“As a federal delegation, we’re a team, and we work intimately with our great governor,” Fortenberry said when his turn came.

Fischer, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, stressed measures by the GOP-controlled Congress to rebuild and modernize the U.S. military after the strains of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Recent rosy U.S. economic figures shows “Congress working together with President Trump to make sure that we have pro-growth policies in this country again,” she said.

The Valentine-area rancher also touted her work to keep federal aviation and highway funding flowing to Nebraska. She scoffed at the idea that Republicans and Democrats in the Senate “don’t get along at all.”

“There’s a lot of good things that are happening out there that we don’t always hear about,” Fischer said. “And I think it’s a message that Nebraskans need to hear and America needs to hear, as well, because we’re too polarized as a country.”

Smith emphasized that the major tax-cut bill passed by Congress and signed by Trump took several years to put together. He reminded the Lee Bird Field audience that an earlier draft of the bill called for ending federal deductibility of property taxes, but he and GOP Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota teamed up to defeat that change.

“I like to brag to my colleagues that the most common request of 3rd District Nebraskans is to be left alone,” Smith said. But in economic matters, “I’m grateful that we’ve got a governor who knows what it’s like to compete, who knows what it’s like in the private sector.”

Ricketts used his third North Platte appearance in a month to issue a ringing defense of Trump, especially on the economic front.

“These are the folks who are supporting the president’s agenda,” he said of his congressional companions on Monday’s tour. “Think about this: President Trump has arguably had one of the most successful first two years as president in the last hundred years.”

But “we should know that there’s a stark contrast here between the prosperity and the path we’re on right now and where the other side wants to take us,” he added, contending that Democrats would erode gun rights, ensure abortion on demand and outlaw private health insurance in favor of “Medicare for all.”

“That’s why it’s so important to turn people out,” Ricketts said.

Recommended for you